A bill that would effectively block grocery stores from selling wine and liquor—and ban wine and liquor sales in new pharmacies—was approved today in a state House committee.
Under the legislation, grocery stores could still sell alcohol from an adjoined structure with a separate entrance.
Current law does not allow people younger than 21 to enter a place which sells wine and package liquor, which has prevented sales in grocery stores in the past.
Last year, a federal judge overturned the ban against wine and alcohol in grocery stores. U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn said that it was unfair to ban grocery stores from selling wine and liquor while allowing sales in drug stores.
“The problem is unintended consequences, and what the judge did was the judge opened up the whole can of worms to everybody. So we would have liquor in convenience stores, dollar stores, wherever they could get a liquor license. And that’s something that nobody wanted,” said Rep. Dennis Keene, a Wilder Democrat and a sponsor of the bill.
He didn’t address a question about whether the new bill could also be struck down in federal court.
The legislation, House Bill 310, is supported by a group called Fighting Alcohol Consumption by Teens. The group says that constituents are against putting wine and liquor in grocery stores.
“The law that was struck down by Judge Heyburn was cited as being problematic because it has addressed all the different classes of retailers,” said Gary Gerdemann, a spokesman for FACT. ”The bill as written does not address retailers it simply says that we think adult products should be sold by adults in an environment that only permits adults.”
State Rep. David Obsourne, a Republican from Prospect, was the only committee member to vote against the bill, adding his concern that the bill could change business competition models and raise issues of constitutionality.